Tropes and tales of heroic leadership are a common feature of media analyses and discussions of education. This reflects a cult of leadership and embody a widespread faith in the potential of “transformational” or “visionary” leaders to redeem our institutions and our society. At the same time a growing body of literature questions the existence of leadership as a phenomenon, insisting on its imaginary and rhetorical, rather than “real”, status. Against this background, this chapter is based on an analysis of interviews conducted with the senior leadership of a medium-sized multi-academy trust (MAT) in England. Our analysis, based on interviews with three members of the trust leadership, explores the imaginary constructions of leadership identity generated by participants during the interviews. In particular, we highlight how the hierarchical, competitive symbolic regime of the current neoliberal education policy context inevitably intrudes into these leadership identities. The chapter concludes with a consideration of the implications of these insights for leadership studies and practices.
|Title of host publication||Theorising identity and subjectivity in educational leadership research|
|Editors||Richard Niesche, Amanda Heffernan|
|Place of Publication||Oxford, UK|
|Number of pages||14|
|ISBN (Print)||9781032173146, 9780367145293|
|Publication status||Published - 11 Mar 2020|